Date of Conferral



Doctor of Public Health (DrPH)


Public Health


David Anderson


A concerning public health issue in America is about food deserts urban and rural communities that lack grocery retailers that offer affordable, nutritious, and diverse foods. Empirical evidence has shown significant associations between neighborhood disadvantage/disorder risk factors of high poverty and high percentages of ethnic minority residents with presence/ absence of healthy food retailers in food deserts. The purpose of this quantitative correlational study, framed by the disparities in food safety conceptual model, was to examine if county-level poverty, number of African American residents, number of elderly (i.e., age 65 or older) residents, vehicle ownership, and crime rates were significantly associated with presence/absence of healthy food retail environments in a stratified random sample of 160 Mississippi Delta Region counties. Variables were measured using SPSS 25.0 data set from federal sources. Data were analyzed using binary logistic regression. Findings indicated that the percentage of households below poverty level was significantly associated with absence of healthy food retailers, (Wald X2 = 7.62, p = .006). Logistic regression findings further showed that the county percentage of households with at least one vehicle was significantly associated with the presence of healthy food retailers, (Wald X2= 8.75, p = .003). As a result of this study, residents of the Mississippi Delta Region (MDR) may begin to petition their local, county, and state governments to enhance access to healthy foods, and in turn, such government institutions may develop programs and initiatives that help to make healthy foods affordable.